Mixed Review of Jesus—The Lost Forty Days

imageJoe Lunceford has provided us with a mixed review of the History Channel’s Jesus: The Lost Forty Days over at The Bible and Interpretation. He writes:

Perhaps the weakest link in the chain of evidence presented was its reliance upon the genuineness of the Shroud of Turin. One of the participants in the program conceded that by carbon 10 (sic, it is 14) dating, the shroud was dated between 1260 and 1390 CE. By using a work of art that apparently depicted the shroud, he argued for the much earlier existence of the shroud, although the actual difference between the time of the work of art and the shroud was less than a century. A great deal of the argument rested on the genuineness of the shroud. Take that away and much of the argument crumbles.

Actually, the significance of that work of art, a drawing in the Hungarian Pray Manuscript is very significant when fully understood in its historical context. And there is considerably more evidence that the carbon 14 dating is wrong. Perhaps the show could have been a bit stronger on this point. He continues:

Several careless statements or depictions also marred the presentation. For example, Mary Magdalene was said to have gone to Jesus’ tomb alone. This depends upon which Gospel one reads. . . .

Agree, but that really was not the point, here. And . . .

. . . Identification of the “disciple whom Jesus loved” as John and the author of the gospel raises serious questions, in my judgment. For John to have referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” would be extremely arrogant. I think this is one of the strongest arguments that John, son of Zebedee, was not the author of the Fourth Gospel.

Or, frankly, someone else altogether (my favorite theory). This is not what the show was about, however.

Further, presenting a picture of Thomas placing his finger in Jesus’ wounds is something else which is not supported by the canonical gospels.

Agreed. As I read it, Jesus called Thomas’ bluff.

Having said all this, the computer imaging was fascinating, though I am not sure how much it proves; the discussions were thought provoking at many points.

Very fascinating. Proves? Nothing. What it might infer? Much!

One participant raised the issue as to what constituted resurrection, i.e., whether it included bodily resuscitation or a different type of body. I would have liked to have heard this pursued at more length. I would also have been more interested in the “lost thirty years” between Jesus’ infancy and his earthly ministry, which is a total blank spot in the canonical gospels except for Jesus’ being taken to the temple when he was twelve years old.

Good subjects for a couple of different documentaries, I suppose.

Another ‘Shroud Encounter’ Presentation

imageKatlyn Bacon reporting in MetroWNY:

“Shroud Encounter,” which covers all aspects of the history and science of the Shroud of Turin, came to Joylan Theater on April 17 (Palm Sunday). International expert Russ Breault, the president and founder of The Shroud of Turin Education Project Inc., has been researching and lecturing on the Shroud of Turin for more than 25 years.

If it was Russ Breault, it was excellent. Read the full article: The Shroud of Turin Education Project presented ‘Shroud Encounter’ at Joylan Theater | News | Metrowny.com

String religion. Now, that makes sense.

imageIf you ever wanted to at least slightly understand string theory, Andrew Hickey has written a brilliant piece called Part 5: Zatanna over at Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! should help . . . or not. But it is a fun read:

There’s an area of physics called ‘string theory’. As a matter of fact, this – and M-theory – are misnomers. A theory, in science, has predictive power – people have been able to come up with tests of the theory, and run those tests, and the result has been consistent with the theory. String ‘theory’ should really be called the string hypothesis – as it makes no predictions which are currently testable, let alone actually tested. Unlike quantum theory, or thermodynamics, it’s not made a single prediction which can be confirmed in the observable physical world. In fact, possibly even hypothesis is too strong a word – string philosophy, or string religion, might be better.

But despite this complete lack of testable predictions, physicists have been working on string theory for over forty years. This is because we currently have two separate theories of the universe – General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics – which are both, as far as we can see, absolutely accurate, with no exceptions to either ever having been found, but which are incompatible.

I find things like this because I Google ‘Shroud of Turin.’ This paragraph did it. And if you ever read Frank Tipler’s books, you understand:

There have been several attempts at Theories Of Everything that do this over the years – Einstein spent the last forty years of his life working on various dead-end attempts, and the physicist Frank Tipler has argued in a rather wonderful paper that Richard Feynman actually *did* discover the theory of everything, back in the 1960s, but hadn’t realised it because his theory unfortunately required an infinite number of terms in the equations.{FOOTNOTE Tipler has *also* argued at times that he’s proved the existence of God, that Barack Obama is evil because he doesn’t believe in aether, and that if we clone Jesus using genetic material from the Turin Shroud we’ll be able to figure out how to get free energy from baryon annihilation. He’s one of the more…original…thinkers in physics. But in this case he makes a reasonable argument.} But none of these have had much success among what for want of a better term we can call the physics ‘community’, in part because they’re not neat. They’re not nice.

It is a two cup-of-coffee read. I recommend it: Part 5: Zatanna « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

Search this blog on Tipler to see more nuttiness.

The Archaeology of the Bible by James K. Hoffmeier

imageThe Western Reformed Seminary Journal has a new review by John A. Battle of The Archaeology of the Bible, by James K. Hoffmeier (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2008). Here is an excerpt with a brief mention of the Shroud of Turin:

If you’re looking for an attractive, well balanced survey of biblical archaeology by a recognized expert, this volume would serve your purpose well.  James Hoffmeier is an experienced archaeologist, specializing in the region of Egypt where the Israelites lived and through which they traversed to the Holy Land.  Hoffmeier, unlike many modern “minimalists,” takes historical texts seriously, whether from the Bible or from Egyptian or other sources.  While he teaches at a Christian institution and holds to an evangelical view of the Bible, he openly points out where the biblical record is strongly attested by archaeology and where that record has difficulties.  He makes it clear that we do not presently have all the data, and probably never will; therefore, he says, we need to suspend judgment in some cases.

The book is well organized with an introduction to archaeology and its practice in the biblical lands.  He then goes chronologically through the major periods of Israel’s history and the times of the early church, showing the important archaeological discoveries that help to explain or illuminate the biblical text.  Since his specialty is in the archaeology of the Egyptian settlement and exodus of Israel, his contributions in these chapters are especially interesting.  He supports the so-called late date for the exodus.  The materials he includes for the study of the united and divided monarchy of Israel are especially strong and well illustrated.  The chapters on the New Testament trace the major locations and artifacts for the life of Jesus, the early Judean church, and the cities of Paul.  Since the book is fairly recent, it includes major recent discoveries that further illumine the biblical narrative, including continuing debate on the Shroud of Turin and an interesting discussion on the disputed ossuary of James the brother of Jesus.

I will need to check out this book.

See Western Reformed Seminary : Personal Touch… Pastoral Vision

The Shroud of Turin in the Opera

imageMark Berry writes of the Leipzig Opera’s Parsifal on Good Friday . . .

Parsifal on Good Friday, in the city of Wagner’s birth: how could one resist? I had enjoyed Roland Aeschlimann’s 2006 production, a Leipzig co-production with Geneva and Nice, when seeing it two years previously, and for the most part did so again, though there were perhaps some passages, especially during the third act, when its status as a repertory piece was now a little too evident. . . .

Colour, as I wrote last time around, plays an important role, both in demarcating locations and in the dramatic transformations – an especially important concept in this of all Wagner’s dramas – that occur within particular scenes. That is the aspect which perhaps above all puts me in mind of the aforementioned Wernicke Tristan. I remain intrigued and equally uncertain about Aeschlimann’s Grail. Amfortas uncovers something mysterious – no problem there – and holds up a sheet which, by a trick of lighting presents what continues to remind me of a Turin Shroud-vision of Christ.

Leipzig Opera’s Parsifal on Good Friday | Seen and Heard International

Dissent of the Day on “How Different Beliefs About the Shroud Can Be”

imageBigr writes:

Apparently D. Porter, you didn’t watch all of the evidence presented in the History channel’s, “The Real Face of Jesus.” The way it was determined how light could produce the ‘precise’ image of the face of Christ is explained very clearly. It can’t be proven at this time that the person whose image on the shroud is actually the Christ, the image does exactly depict the Gospel descriptions of the suffering Christ. The fact that the face cloth (also described in the Gospels) precisely holds the image and stains in a perfect alignment to the shroud is even further testimony to the authenticity of the cloth as the burial cloth of Jesus. There have been pollen samples held within the cloth of plants that are indigenous to the area around Jerusalem.

The carbon dating was also thoroughly debunked by artistic impressions that predate by hundreds of years the carbon dating. This then becomes a case when the evidence supports the Gospel story in every detail.

Be not faithless, but believe.

In a feat of modern technology, a life-sized head of the man of the shroud was created. Using a printer – scanner and printing an image of the head on a two dimensional surface, the precise image appeared that exactly matched the image on the shroud.

BigR: Ray Downing, who did the work that shows “how light could produce the ‘precise’ image of the face of Christ,” is a friend. I’ve discussed his “feat of modern technology” with him. It is very convincing. Even so, I am not personally convinced. How it could and how it actually did are not the same. Though Ray and I may disagree on this particular point, it was an honor to be in that wonderful History Channel documentary with him. (I was the big guy too wide for the wide screen TV).

That doesn’t mean that Ray and you aren’t right. I’m not there yet in my thinking. That’s where faith and belief are helpful. So thanks, BigR.

Everyone: Check out his great blog, Big R’s World.

How Big a Winner on iTunes is Jesus, the Lost 40 Days?

From among 124 History (History Channel) Specials for sale in iTunes, Jesus: the Lost 40 Days is in first place and The Real Face of Jesus in seventh place, as of this morning. That is excellent coverage for the Shroud of Turin.


Keep in mind that The Real Face of Jesus has been nominated for two awards.